Where Does Your Drinking Water Come From?

In the Neponset Watershed, your water may come from local groundwater sources and reservoirs, or from a distant location in central Massachusetts. It depends on where you live.


These communities get their drinking water mainly from local groundwater aquifers, which are accessed through municipal or private wells. 

  • Foxborough
  • Canton
  • Dedham
  • Dover
  • Medfield
  • Randolph
  • Sharon
  • Stoughton
  • Walpole
  • Westwood

A number of these towns are also connected to the Massachusetts Resources Water Authority (MWRA) reservoirs for supplemental or backup purposes.

Groundwater aquifers are an area beneath the Earth’s surface, where water fills the spaces between soil particles and fractured rock.

Surface Water/Reservoirs

These communities get their drinking water from the Massachusetts Resources Water Authority (MWRA) reservoirs.

  • Hyde Park
  • Mattapan
  • Milton
  • Norwood
  • Quincy

The MWRA is a Massachusetts public authority established by an act of the Legislature in 1984 to provide wholesale water and sewer services to 3.1 million people and more than 5,500 large industrial users in 61 metropolitan Boston communities. (Source: MWRA.com)

MWRA drinking water quality results can be found here.

The MWRA gets water from the Quabbin & Wachusett Reservoirs in Central MA. Click image to view.

Some water is treated extensively before drinking, some water needs less treatment.

For more detailed information on your drinking water supply, call your local water department, or look up your town’s Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), which describes the town’s water system, quality of water, and anything else related to the drinking water in your community.

The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires each public water system to develop and distribute a CCR to its customers each year. 


Once water is used and goes down the drain, it is considered wastewater and may be treated by a septic system on your property, or a sewer system. Just like your drinking water supply, the type of wastewater treatment you have depends on where you live.

Maintaining a septic system is critical to keeping our groundwater, streams, and ponds healthy.

Typical septic system with leach field.

Reduce Wastewater Pollution

Be careful of what goes down the drain in your home!

Whether it’s a septic system or a sewer system, everything that goes down our drains can contaminate our lakes and streams, which can hurt fish and other aquatic wildlife, and may end up in our drinking water.

Our wastewater (water that has been used for washing, flushing, manufacturing, etc.) directly affects the cleanliness and quality of groundwater and surface water in local waterways, the Neponset River, and Boston Harbor, impacting drinking water sources and environmental habitats.

Follow these simple steps to help reduce wastewater pollution:

  • Limit your use of harsh chemicals and antibacterial products such as bleach, ammonia, and drain cleaners. For example, spot-clean mildew in the shower with bleach instead of cleaning the whole shower using a cleanser containing bleach.
  • Use non-toxic, environmentally friendly products.
  • Clear clogged drains with a plunger, boiling water, or a drain snake rather than with chemicals. In one study, less than 12 grams of drain cleaner killed the bacteria in a septic system!

For more information about household hazardous waste disposal, call your Town Hall or Board of Health. (Most communities have a Hazardous Waste Collection Day.)

Never put paint, motor oil, pesticides, or other household hazardous wastes down the drain.

Never pour medicine down the sink or flush it down the toilet!

To dispose of medication, use one of these options:

  • Use this tool from the MassDEP to find a permanent medicine collection kiosk near you.
  • Bring your prescription medicine to a local Drug Take-Back Day. Contact your local police department for more information.
  • Remove labels from containers, mix medicine (do not crush tablets or capsules) with dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds, and seal inside the container by putting tape around the lid before throwing it away.
  • Medications can sometimes be disposed of at local police or fire departments — or at some pharmacies.